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Restaurant Experts Name the Top Newcomers of 2009

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As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from Meal of the Year to Top Standbys. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights on Thursday. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein:

locanda%20verde.jpg
Locanda Verde, an oft-mentioned top newcomer [Krieger]

Q: What are the top newcomers of 2009?

Kate Krader, restaurant editor Food & Wine: Locanda Verde. Marea. I love the whole Ace Hotel situation - Breslin, Stumptown, hotel lobby that's the most fun place in town. Prime Meats. Fried Chicken night at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Minetta Tavern (horrifying bar scene notwithstanding).

Zach Brooks, mayor of Midtown: I want to say Minetta Tavern, but I couldn't get in. (Writing about under $10 lunches in Midtown gives you no pull. Who knew?)

Peter Meehan: Did Locanda Verde open this year? That place is pretty damn awesome (Carmellini + Demasco = Obvious Grand Slam), though you need to know Kate Krader to score a table. I guess the only new joint that really surprised me in New York was that Chinese joint that Strand wrote up for the Times, M&T in Flushing. Place was killer. Sietsema took me there and ordered like the grand master of outer borough dining that he is. God that place is good. I could go for some of their smoked tongue right now.

Andrew Knowlton, restaurant editor Bon Appetit: Marea, Locanda Verde, Prime Meats, Saraghina

Steve Plotnicki, Opinionated About Dining: Marea, Elements (Princeton)

Bret Thorn, Nation's Restaurant News: Maialino, The Breslin, Cascabel. It was also a great year for reopenings: Minetta Tavern (I think that was 2009), SD-26, Aureole, Oceana.

Gabriella Gershenson, Food Editor TONY: Minetta Tavern, Locanda Verde, Joseph Leonard, Marea, Aldea, Keste, Stumptown Coffee.

Ryan Patrick Sutton, restaurant critic Bloomberg: Marea, Fatty Crab UWS, Aldea,
Brooklyn Star, Motorino East Village.

Matt Rodbard, Metromix: Recipe, Sorella, Veloce Pizzeria, Mayahuel, Prime Meats, Blue Ribbon at Brooklyn Bowl, chef’s table at Brooklyn Fare.

Jeff Zalaznick, founder of Always Hungry: Marea, Locanda Verde, Minetta Tavern.

Danyelle Freeman, Restaurant Girl: Marea and Locanda Verde. Marea proves New Yorkers will still pay a lot for great food. And Locanda Verde proves we don't have to pay a lot for great food anymore.

Josh Ozersky, indefatigable eater: Minetta and Marea are two instant classics, major additions to the city. The Breslin feels like a place New York has been waiting for, and seems to carry with it the past, present, and future of a kind of idealized Manhattan cool that never was; it's really special. Locanda Verde and The Standard Grill are twin scene-restaurant hits that both serve much, much better food than they need to; In a minor key, the city got brilliant additions in Aldea, Bill's, and Vinegar Hill House.

Jay Cheshes, restaurant critic for TONY: Locanda Verde, Aldea, Marea, Minetta Tavern, DBGB.

Foster Kamer, Blackbook and Gawker scribe: Marea, Joseph Leonard, Standard Grill, Minetta, Maialino. Predictable, I know.

Robert Sietsema, Village Voice critic: Minetta Tavern, Hunan House, M & T Restaurant, John Dory, The Vanderbilt, Cafe Breslin, Buttermilk Channel, Saranghina.

Merri Lee Kinglsy, publisher of Saveur: Kefi with credit cards, A Voce Columbus, Marea.

Aaron Ginsberg, Always Eating: Marea, Minetta Tavern, Xie Xie, Prime Meats, Locanda Verde, Aldea, Umi Nom, Mailano, The Vanderbilt, Keste, Co.

Chris Stang & Andrew Steinthal of Immaculate Infatuation: Brooklyn Bowl, Luke's Lobster, Cascabel Taqueria, Rye House

Leventhal: They're interestingly obvious this year, but nevertheless: Locanda Verde, Marea, Minetta Tavern, Breslin.

Oliver Strand, food writer: Dos Toros, Minetta Tavern, Saltie, Saraghina, Stumptown Coffee Roasters (it counts, right?), Third Rail Coffee,

Steele: Sure, all of the above. But what about DBGB? Boulud's Bowery burgers and bangers blingfactory became my steadiest new go-to of the year, helped, yes, in part by four-block proximity to Eater HQ. So what? And this: when Pulino's opens its doors catty-corner in two months, we're going to have the best casual dining program anywhere in this city. People should envy us. I envy us. Runner-up: Foursquare.

Kludt: Sel de Mer, Joseph Leonard, Marea, Aldea, Minetta.

Do feel free to add your own answers to the comments.

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